Saint of The Week
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June 19, 2022 - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More | June 22
Sir Thomas More was a humanist and statesman in Tudor England. He is still widely known today as the author of Utopia. More was a prolific writer and theologian. A true martyr of the Church, he was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, and canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 19, 1935.
More was born in London in 1478, the son of Sir John More, a lawyer and judge. He attended Oxford where he studied Latin and Greek, as well as formal logic. He left Oxford in 1494 to train as a lawyer in London. After attaining the Bar, he spent time discerning a call to the priesthood. Though attracted to the Franciscan order More remained a lay Christian, continuing to fast, pray, and wear a hair shirt. He was married twice, the loving father of three daughters, a stepdaughter by his second marriage, and one son. More wrote many letters to his children when he was away on business and his daughters were known for their academic abilities, as they received the same education as his son, an anomaly at the time.
More rose to the Privy Council in 1514. He became the good friend and advisor to Henry VIII, and in 1521 he was knighted. In 1529 he was made Lord Chancellor of England. However, this appointment was the beginning of the end for the saint. He could not support the break with the Church in Rome when Henry failed to receive from the Pope the annulment of his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon to wed Anne Boleyn. More resigned as Lord Chancellor and continued to refuse to accept Henry as the head of the Church in England. Eventually he was imprisoned, tried, and sentenced to a traitor’s death, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Henry commuted the sentence of his former friend to the more humane beheading. More was executed at Tower Hill, on July 6, 1535, before his death he famously proclaimed that he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
June 12, 2022 - The Most Holy Trinity
Saint Germaine Cousin | June 15
Saint Germaine was born in Pibrac, France in 1579 to poor parents. Her story is a heart wrenching one. She was born with a deformed right arm and hand, and her mother died when she was an infant. Her father remarried, but her stepmother brutally abused and neglected her.
As a child Germaine suffered from scrofula, a disfiguring form of tuberculosis which causes swelling and lesions on the side of the neck. Already sick, abused, and starving, she was forced to sleep in barn with sheep she tended.
Despite everything, Germaine lived each day tending her flock with joy and in prayer. Mary and Jesus became her friends. She shared what little she had and taught the children of the village about God’s love. A rosary made of string knots was her constant companion. She attended Mass every day, leaving her sheep in care of guardian angels. Her flock was never attacked by wolves and never wandered. Some claimed to see the waters of the flooded river part so she could get to Mass.
She is often portrayed with an apron full of flowers because one winter day her stepmother accused her of stealing bread from the house and hiding it her apron. But when she was seized and forced to open the apron an abundance of spring flowers tumbled forth. It was this incident that compelled the villagers and even her parents to recognize her holiness.
Germaine died at 22, her poor body was found by her father, in the barn where she slept. She was buried in the village church. More than forty years later, her body was accidentally exhumed and found to be incorrupt. She was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867 and inscribed into the canon of virgins.
June 5, 2022 - Pentecost Sunday
St. Norbert | June 6
Born to nobility, St. Norbert of Xanten, was ordained as a subdeacon and served in the court of Henry V, Emperor of Germany, however, at court it was easy to be distracted by wealth, power and luxury and he lived a worldly and corrupt life there. By the grace of God while traveling in a storm he was nearly struck by lightning and almost killed. This experience changed St. Norbert and he became penitent, left his court post, and after a period of discernment in a monastery, felt called to be a priest.
Norbert became an itinerant preacher, preaching against worldly attitudes but at the Pope’s request finally settled in northern France and founded the Norbertine order established according to the rule of St. Augustine. The order grew rapidly and soon founded women’s branch. Norbert traveled and preached across Germany where he also founded a lay branch of the Norbertines. In Belgium he preached against heresies which denied the Blessed Sacrament.
Eventually he was made Archbishop of Magdeburg, Germany, and later he traveled to Rome in support of Pope Innocent II, against the antipope. Afterward he returned to Germany to court of Emperor Lothar as advisor, at end of life, in failing health, St. Norbert was carried back to Magdeburg where he died.
May 29, 2022 - 7th Sunday of Easter
St. Joan of Arc | May 30
St. Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431) has had her story told throughout history through many books, movies and plays. She was born in the village of Domrémy, near the province of Lorraine, to a French peasant family. At a young age, she began to experience visions and voices, which were later identified to be of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch. At the age of 13, all three saints told her that she was to drive the English from French territory, and that she must bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. Trusting in God, she did as she was told.
During the Hundred Years War, St. Joan of Arc led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft, eventually being found guilty and burned at the stake in Rouen.
St. Joan of Arc was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 16, 1920, and is the patron saint of military members.
May 22, 2022 - 6th Sunday of Easter
St. Rita of Cascia | May 22
St. Rita of Cascia (1381 – 1457) had the opportunity to live her life as a wife, mother, widow, and eventually, member of a religious community. Born in central Italy, St. Rita felt the calling to become a nun, but was pressured at a young age into marriage. During her 18-year marriage to a cruel man, she raised two sons. When her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons died, St. Rita decided to go back to her first love and attempted to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Her status as a widow caused some complications to her entering, but she eventually succeeded in professing vows.
Throughout her lifetime, St. Rita of Cascia was known for her prayerfulness and charity. She also experienced stigmata on her forehead, meditated frequently on Christ’s passion, and cared for the nuns of her religious community and those in the lay community who came to her for counsel.
May 15, 2022 - 5th Sunday of Easter
St. Margaret of Cortona | May 16
Though St. Margaret of Cortona (1247 – 1297) is today known as being an incredibly pious Catholic, she didn’t start out that way. Born into a farming family in Laviano, Tuscany, her mother died when St. Margaret was seven. Her father remarried, but life with her stepmother was so difficult that St. Margaret moved out of the home and instead chose to live with a man named Arsenio, though they weren’t married. They had been living together for nine years when she gave birth to a son. Knowing in her heart that this wasn’t the life that God intended for her to have, she prayed for purity.
One day while waiting for Arsenio, his dog led her into the forest where she found Arsenio murdered. So shocked was St. Margaret that she fell into a life of penance. She and her son returned to Laviano, but still found her stepmother to be as unwelcoming as ever. They then went to Cortona, and eventually her son became a friar.
Three years after her conversion, St. Margaret followed in her son’s footsteps and became a Franciscan tertiary. During her life, St. Margaret established a hospital and founded a congregation of tertiary sisters. She was canonized in 1728.
May 8, 2022 - 4th Sunday of Easter
St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka’I | May 10
People may be familiar with leprosy from Biblical times, but not so much in the 1800s. However, St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka’I’ (January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889) would eventually shed a light on the effects of this devastating disease and allow people to see those afflicted with it with more compassion and love.
Born Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium, he quit school at 13 so he could work on the family farm. Feeling called for more, however, he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary six years later, where he took the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. His brother, a priest from the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to his assigned location. Damien quickly volunteered in his place and found himself on the Hawaiian Islands in 1864. Two months after arriving, he was ordained a priest of Honolulu and assigned to the Island of Hawaii.
In 1873, he visited the Hawaiian government’s leper colony on the island of Moloka’I, where he petitioned to stay permanently to care for their physical, medical, and spiritual needs. After years of working to improve their location and those who lived there, he contracted Hansen’s disease and died of its complications. St. Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009
May 1, 2022 - 3rd Sunday of Easter
St. Rose Venerini | May 7
The story of St. Rose of Venerini (February 9, 1656 – May 7, 1728) is one of having faith in God and his calling in your life. Born in Italy in 1656, she was the daughter of a doctor. Following the death of her fiancé, she entered a convent in the hopes of becoming a nun, but soon returned home to care for her mother after the death of her father. In an effort to keep up her spiritual side, St. Rose invited women of the neighborhood to recite the rosary in her home, and together they formed a sodality.
Unsure of where her life was headed, she sought the spiritual guidance of a Jesuit priest. After much contemplation, she admitted to feeling called to be a teacher in the world, rather than a nun in a convent. Eventually, she moved ahead and opened a free school for girls in 1685. Eventually, she was invited to oversee the training of teachers and the administration of schools in the Diocese of Montefiascone, which then led to being called upon to organize schools in many parts of Italy, including Rome.
St. Rose died in Rome in 1728 amid a number of miracles that many credit to her. The group of women she first prayed with in her home eventually became known as the Venerini Sisters, found in the United States and working among Italian immigrants. St. Rose was beatified in 1952 and canonized in 2006
April 24, 2022 - 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday
St. Pedro de San José Betancur | April 25
Central America’s first saint, St. Pedro de San José Betancur (1626-1667) was born a poor shepherd in the Canary Islands. His family lands were seized because of debt, and he worked as an indentured servant until his early adult life when Pedro left his home to travel to Guatemala. His money for the journey ran out long before he arrived. He was destitute when he did arrive and was forced to join the bread line the Franciscan Friars had for the poor.
In 1655, he joined the Third Order of St Francis. Pedro began to serve the poor, the enslaved, immigrants, abandoned children, anyone that needed him. In 1658 he was given a hut which he made into a hospital for the poor. This small start grew into a shelter for the homeless, a school for the poor, an inn for priests, and several small chapels in poor areas. He was supported by many patrons and was joined in his work by both men and women, who became the Bethlehemite Brothers and the Bethlehemite Sisters.
Pedro prayed for the souls of those in purgatory, walked through the streets of rich neighborhoods ringing a bell and calling the wealthy to repent, and ministered to prisoners. Most accounts credit him with beginning the tradition of posadas, a procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph ask for lodging from their neighbors. This tradition continues today in Mexico and Central America. Because of his work with the poor and marginalized Pedro is often referred to as the “Saint Frances of the Americas”. St. Pedro was canonized on July 30, 2002, in Guatemala City, Guatemala by Pope John Paul II.
April 17, 2022 Easter Sunday
St. Anselm | April 21
St. Anselm of Canterbury left his home in Italy to travel as a young man and ended up at the monastery in Bec, France, which was known for the teachings of its leader, Lanfranc. Anselm rose quickly to become abbot of the community and his writings are now compared in importance to those of St. Augustine.
In 1093 Anselm was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by William II Rufus, the son and successor of William the Conqueror. However, at the time there was a controversy in Europe over whether kings or the pope had the power to invest bishops. Anselm, who believed only the pope should have the right to invest an ecclesiastical authority, spent much of his time as Archbishop exiled in Rome.
St. Anselm’s teaching and works of theology are his most important contribution to the Catholic faith. He is considered of the fathers of scholastic theology and his chief achievement in philosophy was the ontological argument for the existence of God. His work Cur Deus homo? taught that atonement for sins could only be achieved through Christ. He was canonized in 1494 and named a Doctor of the Church in 1720.
April 10, 2022 - Palm Sunday
St. Bernadette Soubirous | April 16
At the age of 14 St. Bernadette (1844-1879) was living in abject poverty with her family in a one-room basement which had previously been used as a jail, in the town of Lourdes in southern France. She was a sickly child, having fallen victim to Cholera in 1854 and would battle asthma and tuberculosis for the rest of her short life. Bernadette was illiterate and is characterized in many accounts as slow or ignorant. It was in her 14th year that Bernadette was granted 18 visions of a ‘Lady’ at a grotto in Massabielle. The Lady instructed Bernadette to come daily to the grotto to receive the visions, eventually proclaiming ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’. A spring at the grotto, which appeared where Bernadette was instructed to dig, has been a site of miraculous healing. The Lady also asked that a chapel be built in the grotto for pilgrims. Today the Marian shrine at Lourdes is one of the world’s most popular.
During and following the period of visions, the saint was examined rigorously by Church and local authorities. The popular excitement around the visions left her subject to persistent questioning and attention. Eventually she sought protection by retiring to a home for the poor in a nunnery. She took her vows in 1866 with the Sisters of Charity at Nevers. She worked as an infirmary assistant, and later a sacristan, but by the end of her life she was too sick to participate in convent life. She died at the age of 35, humble and penitent until the end.
April 3, 2022 - 5th Sunday of Lent
St. Benedict the African | April 4
St. Benedict the African (1524-1589), was born in San Fratello, Sicily to Cristoforo and Diana Manasseri, Africans who had been taken as slaves. Some accounts claim that because of his parents’ loyal service that Benedict was given his freedom at birth, other sources say that his freedom was granted when he turned 18. At 21 Benedict joined a society of hermits living under the rule of St. Francis of Assisi. Eventually he succeeded his friend, Jerome Lanze, as their leader. When the Pope disbanded the independent hermit society, Benedict joined the Order of Friars Minor and he was sent to Palermo, to the Franciscan Friary of St. Mary of Jesus. There Benedict worked in the kitchens and despite being illiterate and a lay brother (not a priest), he also served as Master of Novices, and as Guardian of the Community. St. Benedict was known throughout his life as a brilliant cook under whose hands food seemed to multiply miraculously, a healer, and a spiritual leader with profound understanding. He is recognized as the patron saint of African Americans.